300 Year Drought

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.  In 2200 BC, there was a massive drought, that lasted until 1900 BC, persisting for about 300 years.  This worldwide intense aridity is well recorded across North Africa, the Middle East, the Red Sea, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and even mid-continental North America.  Glaciers throughout the mountain ranges of western Canada advanced at about this time.  The 300-year drought resulted from a sharp drop in rainfall and this most likely led to the collapse of several eastern Mediterranean civilizations.  The decline of Bronze-Age civilizations in Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia has been attributed to this long-term drought and even the pyramid builders fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate.

This drought period was quite eventful, the significance of which was not fully recognized by the historians that wrote our world history.  Most people that actually experienced this prolonged drought were not totally aware of it when it was happening to them, as it was happened so slowly over their lifetime that they were not able to understand that their climate was changing.  A famine resulted from the drought and this could explain why the entire Hittite culture, a chariot-riding people who ruled most of the region of Anatolia, vanished from the planet.  The first empire that our world ever knew, the Akkadian empire was built by a Mesopotamian ruler named Sargon of Akkad.  The Akkadians of Mesopotamia seized control of cities along the Euphrates River and on the fruitful plains to the north, all in what is now Iraq, Syria and parts of southern Turkey.  Sargon conquered and subjugated dozens of cities and villages forcing them to pay tribute in wheat, barley and silver.  For a century the regime flourished, first under Sargon and then under his grandson until suddenly, mysteriously, it collapsed.  A microscopic analysis of soil moisture at the ruins of Akkadian cities in the northern farmlands disclosed that the onset of the drought was swift and the consequences were severe.

During this period there was a massive amount of migration all across the world.  People abandoned cities, seeking wetter areas elsewhere migrating hundreds or even thousands of miles to wherever they thought they could find water.  The refugees from the drought moved to lands where irrigation helped protect crops because they were dependent on plenty of rainfall to water their fields.  The Amorites a herding people from the city of Ur were among the drought’s refugees, as their economy was based on grain agriculture.  When the drought finally ended, leadership in the region had passed from Akkad to Ur and then to the Amorites, whose power was centered at the rising city of Babylon and eventually Hammurabi who was a descendant of Amorites would rule the Babylonians.

The debris, dust, sand and soil samples recovered from this period show fine wind-blown sand, no trace of earthworm activity, and these signs point to reduced rainfall and indications of a drier and windier climate.  Evidence shows that skeleton-thin sheep and cattle died of drought.  Archaeologist dug through excavations from this period when rains began to fail and discovered an interval devoid of signs of human activity, containing only the clay of deteriorating bricks.  Scientists have no clear idea as to what caused this persistent dry spell, though they suggested that changing wind patterns and ocean currents could have been factors, along with a volcanic eruption that occurred in Turkey near the beginning of the drought.  

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